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Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Short Plays: Must Reading

Yes, I know: this blog is mostly about international affairs, politics, economics and occasionally biotechnology. But sometimes it's also good to "get away from it all" on a short vacation.

I strongly urge reading two hilarious short plays by Dr. Richard Grossman, "Reality Book Group" and "Room With Maintenance," which can be ordered online at:

“Reality Book Group” was top-billed by the Boston Globe (from 53 chosen plays written by New England’s premier playwrights) and performed at the 2012 Boston Theater Marathon.

Dr. Grossman is an incredible literary talent, a psychologist and world class authority on narcissistic personality disorders (yeah, he's very busy these days), and also . . . my brother!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Krugman, "The Medicare Killers": Krugman on the Verge of an Apoplectic Fit

Yesterday, it was little less than remarkable to observe the titles of the various opinion pieces appearing on the home page of The Washington Post pertaining to Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican Party's Tampa convention: "Mr. Ryan’s misleading speech," "Will Paul Ryan's dishonesty matter to voters?," "Which of Ryan’s distortions in his speech to the Republican National Convention were the worst?," "Paul Ryan’s breathtakingly dishonest speech," and "Ryan: Flunking his own test."

Goodness gracious, Paul Ryan must be the Devil incarnate.

Not to be outdone by WaPo's columnists, Paul Krugman joins the attack against the Republican vice presidential candidate with an apoplectic op-ed entitled "The Medicare Killers" ( Informing us that Ryan’s speech "finally may have dispelled the myth that he is a Serious, Honest Conservative," Krugman calls Ryan's voucher system for the purchase of medical insurance a "big lie" and a "terrible, terrible thing."

However, as acknowledged by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees in its Summary of the 2012 Annual Reports (, funding of both Social Security and Medicare faces dire challenges. As observed by the Boards of Trustees:

"Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

Is Ryan "dishonest," a "fraud" and a "liar"? Nah. Although his proposed solutions to the pending Medicare crisis demand discussion, even the Boards of Trustees of Social Security and Medicare recognize that concrete steps to trim the deficits must come immediately. You can disagree vigorously with the specifics of Ryan's plans, but his initiative, which has shaken the federal government and national media from their fool's paradise, can only be deemed commendable.

David Brooks, "Party of Strivers": The End of the Party

At the age of 58, I often give thought to realizing my dream of returning to school to study film making, and my wife of more than 25 years inevitably encourages me to pursue this ambition, but then reality impinges upon this vision. There is a large mortgage which needs to be paid, and there are three children at the outset of their adult lives, who require assistance with their schooling. Then, too, there are deserving charities knocking on our door, and unexpected bills, medical or otherwise, which inopportunely arise. In short, my scholastic vision must be tempered by budgetary realities.

In his New York Times op-ed "Party of Strivers" (, David Brooks takes the Republicans to task for focusing at their convention on individual ambition as opposed to collective societal needs:

"If you believe, as I do, that American institutions are hitting a creaky middle age, then you have a lot of time for this argument. If you believe that there has been a hardening of the national arteries caused by a labyrinthine tax code, an unsustainable Medicare program and a suicidal addiction to deficits, then you appreciate this streamlining agenda, even if you don’t buy into the whole Ayn Rand-influenced gospel of wealth.

On the one hand, you see the Republicans taking the initiative, offering rejuvenating reform. On the other hand, you see an exhausted Democratic Party, which says: We don’t have an agenda, but we really don’t like theirs. Given these options, the choice is pretty clear.

But there is a flaw in the vision the Republicans offered in Tampa. It is contained in its rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism."

Like Brooks, I don't buy into "Atlas Shrugged." I also agree with Brooks that government must provide individuals with avenues to strive, build and flourish, while at the same time providing a safety net for the poor, elderly and unemployed.

However, I disagree with Brooks when he claims that "American institutions are hitting a creaky middle age." Rather, I believe that several of these institutions, e.g., Medicare and Social Security, are showing signs of collapse.

Regarding social security funding, Yahoo! News reported earlier this month (

"The projected shortfall in 2033 is $623 billion, according to the trustees' latest report. It reaches $1 trillion in 2045 and nearly $7 trillion in 2086, the end of a 75-year period used by Social Security's number crunchers because it covers the retirement years of just about everyone working today.

Add up 75 years' worth of shortfalls and you get an astonishing figure: $134 trillion. Adjusted for inflation, that's $30.5 trillion in 2012 dollars, or eight times the size of this year's entire federal budget."

Individual ambition versus compassionate collectivism? There is a need for both, and I do not regard them as mutually exclusive. Meanwhile, however, Republicans and Democrats had best come up with concrete answers how to prevent the disintegration of the edifice housing both of these commendable goals, so as to enable further contemplation of their relative merits.

New York Times Editorial, "Mr. Romney Reinvents History": Warped

In an editorial entitled "Mr. Romney Reinvents History" (, The New York Times claims that Romney and the Republicans are weak on foreign policy:

"While President Obama is vulnerable on some domestic issues, the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy."

Oh my goodness! Obama has not failed on foreign policy? Consider:

• Obama escalated American ground involvement in Afghanistan at a cost of billions of dollars and hundreds of American lives, while providing the Taliban with a timetable for US withdrawal.
• Obama reached out to Iran and refused to back the Green Revolution demonstrators, who were then murdered, imprisoned and tortured.
• Obama has failed to cause Iran to terminate or even slow its nuclear weapons development program.
• Obama reached out to Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and sent Senator John Kerry on multiple missions to placate this monster.
• Obama was exceptionally late in acknowledging Assad's murder of thousands of Syrian civilians.
• Obama is infamous for his open microphone gaffe, when he promised concessions to Russia's President Putin with nothing to show in return.
• Obama sold out Poland and the Czech Republic.
• Obama reneged on his promise to recognize the Armenian genocide.
• Obama has become best friends with Turkey's Erdogan, who is "famous" for imprisoning opposition journalists and military officers.
• Obama failed to contend with Chinese human rights abuses.
• Obama humiliated the Dalai Lama.

And the list continues ad infinitum.

The Times editorial continues:

"The one alliance on which there is real debate between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is with Israel. But it is not, as Mr. Romney and his supporters want Americans to believe, about whether Mr. Obama is a supporter of Israel. Every modern president has been, including Mr. Obama. Apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it’s not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently."

Needless to say, the snotty editorial board of the Times fails to acknowledge that according to the Palestinians, Israeli settlements cover only 1.1 percent of the West Bank (see: The editorial board of couse also doesn't mention current Israeli Supreme Court orders to evacuate the Migron settlement (see:

Obama supports Israel? As acknowledged by Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (see:, "Barack Obama is no Israel-lover," and "if the president wins a second term, expect a major clash with Benjamin Netanyahu."

But more important, Romney has stated that if elected, he will visit Israel - something Obama has refused to do as president - and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. At a time when Israel is facing an existential threat from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, Romney has demonstrated how he differs from Obama significantly in this regard.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gail Collins, "Renovating Mitt Romney": Why Collins Is Not a Comedian

Why Gail Collins is a columnist for a newspaper facing financial ruin and not a stand-up comedian again becomes painfully clear in her New York Times op-ed entitled "Renovating Mitt Romney" ( Devoted to demeaning all those who have spoken at the Republican convention, Collins makes no mention of unemployment, unsustainable deficits or failed foreign policy under the Obama administration.

Although correct in part that the Republicans' "mission this week is to construct an entirely new, improved, warmer, more lovable version" of Romney, she fails to mention that there has been no attempt by the Democrats to resurrect "Hope" and "Change" in 2012.

As observed by uber-left Times columnist Roger Cohen earlier this week (

"Well, four years have passed and Obama has adroitly steered the bankrupted United States he inherited away from the precipice but has not provided a 'different future' worthy of the hope invested in him; and that imagined team of rivals became a team, or rather a coterie, of idolizers.

There is only one star in the galaxy at this White House and his name is Barack Obama. Everyone in the Sun King’s court has drunk the Kool-Aid."

In a nutshell, there is nothing funny about this presidential election, given the inertia and despondency which today characterize America. It is a sorry state of affairs when many of the columnists of the Times are forced to savage Romney's "likeability" instead of addressing the challenges which went unmet by Obama.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Morsi’s Wrong Turn": Another Obama Foreign Policy Failure

According to Iran's Mehr News Agency today (

"Iran’s successful organization and hosting of the NAM summit here in Tehran has neutralized all the anti-Iran plots, and the international community is beginning to accept the idea that Iran is by no means an isolated state, but quite the contrary, actually enjoys huge international support, especially on its nuclear program."

Now read Thomas Friedman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Morsi’s Wrong Turn" (, in which he claims:

"Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement — the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt."

So whereas Friedman would have us believe that the only reason for hosting the NAM summit in Tehran is to show that the world approves of the way in which the mullahs crushed the Green Revolution, Iran's media is telling us that the NAM summit is being used to demonstrate that much of the world approves of its drive to build nuclear weapons. Big difference.

Yet another Iranian objective specified by the Mehr News Agency (, but which goes unmentioned by Friedman, is to "oppose foreign intervention in Syria," i.e. garner support for Iran's heinous ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who is busy gunning down thousands of civilians in a countrywide civil war.

Friedman, however, is also correct: Morsi should be ashamed to be "lending his legitimacy" to a regime that crushed a nascent democracy movement and murdered, imprisoned and tortured the movement's leaders.

Friedman also asks, "why is Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, lending his hand to this Iranian whitewashing festival?"

Allow me to answer his question. Ban Ki-moon, Mohamed Morsi and all others attending the NAM summit in Tehran are basically hedging their bets. They don't believe that a weak-kneed Obama will prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons and wish to be remembered as having offered succor to Iran when it tests its first atomic bomb.

Or in other words, the United States can bankroll the United Nations and continue to provide Egypt with billions of dollars of aid each year, but cannot expect Ban Ki-moon and Morsi to respect American efforts to isolate Iran.

Chalk this up as another Obama foreign policy failure, and so much for Friedman's much vaunted "Arab spring."

New York Times Editorial, "Iran’s Nuclear Quest": Parroting the Obama Administration

The New York Times has morphed into the mouthpiece of the Obama administration.

In an editorial entitled "Iran’s Nuclear Quest" (, the Times tells us:

• "Iran appears to have installed a few hundred more centrifuges at its deep underground site known as Fordow, thus enhancing its ability to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent, a purity that can be converted relatively quickly to bomb-grade fuel."
• "Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are clearly dangerous to Israel and the region."
• "It is disappointing that recently toughened sanctions and several rounds of negotiations have not produced positive results."
• "That is why this week’s meeting in Tehran of the Nonaligned Movement was a major blow."
• "Worst of all, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, chose to participate even though Iran has been thumbing its nose at Security Council resolutions for nearly six years."

On the other hand, the editorial would have us believe the Obama administration's "sensible" assurances that "there is time and space" to keep working toward a diplomatic solution, despite growing pressure for military action from an "overheated" Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Parroting Obama administration sentiments, the editorial observes, "The speculation now is that he [Netanyahu] is escalating his warnings before the United States election in a cynical gambit to get President Obama’s agreement to act against Iran soon."

Obviously, the Obama administration does not want a war with Iran prior to the elections in November, but the editorial doesn't tell us when Iran will be ready with its first atomic bomb.

In December 2011, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated ("

"The consensus is that, if they [Iran] decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon."

Or in other words, given Iran's persistent threats to rid the world of the "cancerous Zionist tumor" (, Israel should expect Iran's first atomic bomb to explode in Tel Aviv in just over a year.

If Manhattan was facing a similar threat, would the editorial staff of the Times, which is labeling Netanyahu "overheated" and "cynical," remain so sanguine?

Not a chance, unless they anticipated a Chapter 11 filing prior to doomsday.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Roger Cohen, "Obama’s Team of Idolizers": The King Has No Clothes

Who would ever imagine that Roger Cohen would be the first New York Times columnist to recognize the failure of the Obama administration. In his op-ed entitled "Obama’s Team of Idolizers" (, Cohen writes:

"Well, four years have passed and Obama has adroitly steered the bankrupted United States he inherited away from the precipice but has not provided a 'different future' worthy of the hope invested in him; and that imagined team of rivals became a team, or rather a coterie, of idolizers.

There is only one star in the galaxy at this White House and his name is Barack Obama. Everyone in the Sun King’s court has drunk the Kool-Aid."

Cohen proceeds to highlight Obama's folly of escalating the war in Afghanistan.

One can only wonder whether there will be another Times columnist brave enough to acknowledge that the king has no clothes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Paul Krugman, "The Comeback Skid": Political Progressivism "Bleeds Through the Fabric of The Times"

Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of The New York Times, is departing, and this past weekend he published his final column (see: in which he stated:

"When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times."

"Political progressivism," i.e. bias, "bleeds through the fabric of The Times"? Who would have ever imagined?

Today, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Comeback Skid" (, Paul Krugman again takes aim at Paul Ryan ("Mr. Ryan, as people finally seem to be realizing, is at heart a fiscal fraud"), but most of his rancor is reserved for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

"Also, while much of his [Christie's] program involves spending cuts, he has effectively raised taxes on low-income workers and homeowners by slashing tax credits. But he vetoed a temporary surcharge on millionaires while refusing to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which is the third-lowest in America and far below tax rates in neighboring states. Only some people, it seems, are expected to make sacrifices."

So Christie refused to raise New Jersey's gasoline tax. Are we to understand that the price of gasoline has no impact upon commerce in the Garden State and that only millionaires drive cars?

Krugman continues:

"Strikingly, New Jersey’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate is now significantly higher than the unemployment rate in long-suffering Michigan, which has had a true comeback thanks to the G.O.P.-opposed auto bailout."

Although Michigan's current unemployment rate of 9 percent is better than a year ago, Krugman doesn't tell you that in July 2012, Michigan's unemployment rate rose for the third consecutive month after nine months of improvement (see:

In fact, economic recovery throughout the US has hit the skids, yet there is no reference in Krugman's opinion piece to Obama's responsibility for this disaster.

Recall how Obama stated exactly one year ago in August 2011 (

"I expect to be judged a year from now on whether or not things have continued to get better."

Krugman, however, prefers to ignore the president's pledge, overlooks the absence of an Obama plan to remedy America's unsustainable fiscal deficits, and instead accuses Paul Ryan of "fiscal fraud." Sure, it is possible to intelligently challenge Ryan's proposals (see, for example, Peter Orszag's reasoned response, which is made without name-calling:, but where is Obama's alternative solution?

Which takes us back to Arthur Brisbane's parting remarks. Indeed, "political progressivism," i.e. bias, sadly "bleeds through the fabric of The Times."

Thomas Friedman, "I Made the Robot Do It": Will Robotics Create New Jobs?

Note the contradiction in Thomas Friedman's latest op-ed entitled "I Made the Robot Do It" ( Visiting the design workshop of Rethink Robotics in Massachusetts, Friedman quotes Rodney Brooks, the company's founder:

"The minute you say 'robots' people say: 'It’s going to take away jobs.' But that is not true. It doesn’t take away jobs. It will change how you do them."

To which Friedman responds:

"Actually, the robots will eliminate jobs, just as the PC did, but they be will lower-skilled ones. And the robots will also create new jobs or enlarge existing ones, but they will be jobs that require more skills."

Although I am not familiar with Rethink Robotics, it stands to reason that improved robotics will eliminate lower-skilled jobs, i.e. the ones that are currently being outsourced to sweatshops in China, Vietnam and Pakistan.

Friedman concludes:

"This is the march of progress. It eliminates bad jobs, empowers good jobs, but always demands more skill and creativity and always enables fewer people to do more things. We went through the same megashift when our agricultural economy was replaced by the industrial economy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Therefore, what this election should be about is how we spawn thousands of Rethinks that create new industries, new jobs and productivity tools."

Yes, improved robotics will allow fewer people to do more things. It could also reduce outsourcing from the US. But will it create new industries and jobs?

I'm not so optimistic.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Too Late to Shake That Etch A Sketch": Romney Can No Longer Morph to the Middle?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Too Late to Shake That Etch A Sketch" (, Maureen Dowd questions whether Romney will use the Florida convention to "show us who he really is." Her answer:

"He has recast his positions so many times, he doesn’t seem to know who he is."

Dowd concludes that Romney is now wed to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party and can no longer change course, i.e. shake the Etch A Sketch:

"And that is what’s disturbing about the prospect of a President Romney. Even though he once seemed to have sensible, moderate managerial instincts, he won’t stop ingratiating himself with the neo-Neanderthals."

Nonsense. Romney is not and never will be "cool," but as acknowledged even by Bill Clinton, Romney's career at Bain Capital was "sterling" (see: He did not build that career on the basis of procrastination, for which Obama has come to be known. Nor could he have achieved lasting success in the arena of cutthroat capitalism by exhibiting spineless toadyism. Under the amorphous veneer lies an unyielding constancy that allowed him to earn joint law and business degrees at Harvard (see:

If elected and placed in charge, will Romney morph to the middle? I would put money on it.

Which doesn't mean that I "like" or "would like" Romney. Most of the politicians whom I have known have never revealed what they really think, i.e. for me are not "likeable," given that their primary motivation is to be elected. But then why should "likability" matter?

I am far more "disturbed" that if Obama is reelected, he, too, will be guided by his true inclinations and veer far to the left.

As much as I despise the Republican policy on abortion, I have always preferred the middle.

Rabbis for Obama: Shame on All of You!

Recently there was a minor stir in the US national political arena, after the Democrats publicized a list of some 600 rabbis (, including those calling for a boycott of Israel, who support Obama. Obama and friends are now flaunting the list as evidence of "The President's strong support of Israel and toughest-ever actions against Iran" (see:

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary yesterday called for the pro-Obama rabbis to "disavow" the "anti-Zionist" rabbis among them (see: and Unlike Jonathan, I am saddened by the entire lot of these rabbis, who are willing to allow Obama to use their names to evidence Obama's support of Israel, which is feeble at best, at a time when Iran and its allies are threatening Israel with extinction.

I live in Israel, I'm not religious, I'm not right wing, and I can emphatically tell you that Obama is no friend of Israel. Moreover, unlike these rabbis, I know what I'm talking about.

A few words about myself. Some 30 years ago, I ate the proverbial "bad pizza": An attorney ensconced in one of the world's leading merger and acquisition firms, I overnight decided that I owed the State of Israel a debt for providing safe haven for Jews around the world and decided to volunteer for the Israeli army. Although it had originally been my intention to do my service and return to the US, an Israeli wife and three children anchored me to the ground on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Today, at the age of 58, I remain an active reserve officer in the Israel Defense Forces, and two of my three children have completed mandatory service in elite combat units; my youngest will be enlisting in less than a year.

Make no mistake about it - Israel today is facing an existential threat. Almost a day doesn't go by without Iran labeling Israel a "cancerous tumor" which it will excise, and without Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, threatening to let fly 50,000 rockets and missiles against Israeli population centers. Add to this menace Syria's enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons, the arsenal of missiles assembled by Hamas in Gaza, and recent attacks by jihadists from Sinai against southern Israel. The situation is not pretty.

What assistance has Obama offered to Israel in the face of this threat? As I personally can confirm, there is excellent cooperation with the US army, and the Obama administration has certainly contributed to bolstering Israel's anti-rocket and missile capabilities.

On the other hand, Obama, as president, has refused to visit Israel. Soon after his inauguration, Obama visited Cairo, where he equated the Holocaust with the Palestinian "dislocation." Cairo is only a 30-minute flight from Tel Aviv, but Obama wouldn't step foot in Israel.

Obama, as president, also visited nearby Riyadh, Istanbul and Ankara. Obama tells us that Turkish President Erdogan, who is infamous for jailing opposition journalists and army officers, is one of his best friends. (By the way, since becoming president, Obama has reneged on his promise to acknowledge the Armenian genocide by the Turks.) However, Obama again refused to visit Israel.

At a time when Israel is facing threats of extermination, such a visit by the President of the United States, informing the world that he's "got Israel's back," would be of enormous symbolic value, but Obama won't have any part of it.

I would like to ask the 600+ rabbis who appear on Obama's list how many times "Jerusalem" appears in the Old Testament. Answer: 669 times. Yet Obama is not even willing to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital (see:

Obama still cares for Israel? Sorry, but as acknowledged by Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (see:, "Barack Obama is no Israel-lover," and "if the president wins a second term, expect a major clash with Benjamin Netanyahu."

More? Ask Obama for permission to see his tribute to Palestinian "activist" Rashid Khalidi, a tape of which is locked away in the offices of The Los Angeles Times (see: There is a reason why this tape is not being allowed to see the light of day.

Still more? Consider how Samantha Power, one of Obama's closest foreign policy advisers, advocates sending US ground forces to the West Bank to protect Palestinians from Israel. In this instance, the evidence is available for everyone to see (

What of President Obama's "tough" economic sanctions against Iran purportedly intended to force Tehran to forgo its nuclear weapons development program? The P5+1 negotiations with Iran have all but collapsed as Iran continues to build its first atomic bomb (see:, and the sanctions have been neutered by waivers issued by the Obama administration, EU indifference, and opposition from Russia and China.

By now it should be plain why Israelis, by a 2:1 ratio, believe that Romney cares more than Obama about Israel (see: Israelis are not stupid, and their lives, unlike those of the 600+ American rabbis, are riding on the line.

I don't like it when right wing Israeli rabbis try to influence Israeli politics, given that I believe in the separation of church and state. Similarly, I am disgusted when American "social activist" rabbis, who have never served in the military and know nothing of the intricacies involving the current threat to Israel's existence, would convince American Jews of Obama's friendly posture to Israel.

If these rabbis wish to tell anyone willing to listen that Obama has been a boon to the American economy or that Obamacare is set to cure America's health care problems, this is of course their right. They can also declare their support for Obama's stance on abortion (personally, I am pro-choice and prefer Obama's position to that of Romney). But these rabbis shouldn't go telling American Jews that Obama is a friend of Israel.

He's not.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gail Collins, "Arms and the Duck": In Fact, Armed Civilians in Israel Have Stopped Terrorists

Throughout much of my adult life, I have had to live with assault rifles, owing to my service in the military. That means eat, sleep and hold them close 24 hours a day. Often, I would have to bring them home when on leave, and then there was always the headache: to disassemble the rifle and separately hide the firing pin. I never wanted the children going anywhere near them.

And as I have stated in prior blog entries, I oppose the sale of assault rifles to the public, even when manufactured to fire only in semi-automatic mode. It's not difficult to convert them back into automatics, and assault rifles are indeed killing machines.

In her New York Times op-ed entitled "Arms and the Duck" (, Gail Collins opposes the proliferation of rifles with "high-capacity magazines," i.e. magazines holding large numbers of bullets. I agree. However, Collins also writes:

"[I]t’s only in movies that people are good shots during a violent encounter. In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent.

And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.

. . . .

We are never going to have a sane national policy on guns until the gun advocates give up on the fantasy that the best protection against armed psychopaths bent on random violence is regular people with loaded pistols on their belts."

Well, Israel's experience proves her wrong. There is no scarcity of firearms in Israel, given the presence of armed guards at every school and shopping center. And notwithstanding this "abundance" of weapons in the hands of the public, including automatic weapons brought home on weekends by youngsters, doing their mandatory service in the army, and reservists, killings with these weapons are rare.

More to the point, it has often happened in Israel that armed civilians carrying concealed weapons have indeed killed terrorists who have opened fire on civilians, thus putting an early end to potential massacres.

Is this because of the military training which most Israelis undergo? I don't know the answer, but the question is surely worth examining.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

David Brooks, "Ryan’s Biggest Mistake": Or a Wake Up Call for America?

In his latest New York Times op-ed, "Ryan’s Biggest Mistake" (, David Brooks would have us know that Paul Ryan's failure to support Simpson-Bowles was an error of epic proportions:

"The Simpson-Bowles plan would have simplified the tax code and lowered rates. It would have capped the size of government. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, it would have brought the federal debt down from 73 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product today, to 67 percent of G.D.P. in 2022."

I agree with Brooks that Simpson-Bowles was better than nothing, but what assurances did we have that by distant 2022 federal debt would indeed have been reduced to 67 percent of G.D.P., particularly given that the cost of Medicare has evolved into a runaway freight train, picking up speed?

Brooks concludes:

"Paul Ryan has a great campaign consciousness, and, when it comes to things like Medicare reform, I agree with him. But when he voted no on the Simpson-Bowles plan he missed the chance to show that he also has a governing consciousness. He missed the chance to do something good for the country, even if it wasn’t the best he or I would wish for."

Is "something" always better than nothing? Is it better to treat a patient with aspirin when surgery is required?

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office warned that the American economy was weaker than had been previously thought and that 9.1 percent unemployment could return by the end of 2013 (see:

Failing to support Simpson-Bowles was Ryan's biggest mistake? I don't think so. Regardless of November's outcome, Americans will be forced to contend with the knowledge that an economic disaster is lurking around the corner.

Paul Krugman, "Galt, Gold and God": Burn the Book?

Paul Krugman has a new bugaboo, another man named Paul.

In his previous New York Times op-ed (, Krugman informed us that "Ryanomics is and always has been a con game" and suggested that it won't give rise to a "real debate." Well, in Krugman's Times op-ed of today's date, "Galt, Gold and God" (, Krugman is again devoting overwrought verbiage to the Republican vice presidential candidate, telling us:

"So far, most of the discussion of Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican nominee for vice president, has focused on his budget proposals. But Mr. Ryan is a man of many ideas, which would ordinarily be a good thing.

In his case, however, most of those ideas appear to come from works of fiction, specifically Ayn Rand’s novel 'Atlas Shrugged.'"

Meanwhile, Krugman's arch-nemesis on the op-ed page of the Times, David Brooks, is also writing today about the Republican congressman from Wisconsin in "Ryan’s Biggest Mistake" (

Sounds like a real debate to me.

But back to Krugman's latest op-ed. Describing "Atlas Shrugged" as "a perennial favorite among adolescent boys," Krugman concludes his opinion piece by declaring:

"[C]onsider the fact that Mr. Ryan is considered the modern G.O.P.’s big thinker. What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels?"

My goodness, I can only imagine what Krugman would say about me if I were to tell him that my favorite novels as an adolescent were the works of H. Rider Haggard, including "King Solomon's Mines," "Allan Quatermain," "She," and "Ayesha." Was it really such a tragedy that as a youngster, I wasted so many hours allowing my imagination to take me on adventures throughout Africa. And although I can no longer remember these novels' plot lines, I believe that everything I read contributes to my ability to create, construct, assimilate and solve.

Tell us, Krugman, what did you read as a child? Have these books distracted you in the pursuit of your life's mission? Or, can you look back with joy at these novels, which unbeknownst to you, have contributed to your innermost self?

What do I think? Thank goodness for the joy bestowed upon me as an adolescent by H. Rider Haggard. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Roger Cohen, "Dulce Et Decorum Est": He Finally Gets Around to Telling Us Afghanistan Is Unwinnable

Regarding American involvement in Afghanistan, Roger (Iran is "not totalitarian") Cohen has finally gotten around to telling us in his New York Times op-ed entitled "Dulce Et Decorum Est" ( that "it is not 'sweet and right to die for your country' — almost 11 years into an unwinnable war." My goodness, this is something that I have been saying since the inception of this blog.

But where in this opinion piece is there reference to President Obama's responsibility for this disaster? In fact, Cohen refers to Obama only once:

"Afghanistan is a country where President Obama appointed an able envoy, the late Richard Holbrooke, only to emasculate him."

That's all? No mention of Obama's protracted decision to escalate US involvement while providing the Taliban with America's timetable for troop withdrawal?

Of course, as we approach November, Cohen wouldn't want to clue anyone into the fact that this president's foreign policy has been an unprecedented disaster.

Will Israel Attack Iran's Nuclear Weapons Development Facilities?

This blog entry is intended for my friends in Arlington and McLean, who seem a bit confused. Allow me to enlighten you without getting myself into too much trouble, as is my wont.

Today, as reported by The Jerusalem Post (, former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk stated that "US officials" are of the belief that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak are attempting to fool them into believing that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities is imminent:

"Indyk said that the United States 'was convinced that Israel would attack' Iran's nuclear program during the spring months earlier this year, speaking in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday.

After no Israeli strike took place, Indyk said that the US officials felt as though they had been duped by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's ruse.

The former ambassador added that there is a sense within the US government that Washington is once again being misled by Israeli declarations and leaks."

Well, those "US officials," i.e. Obama and friends, are once again mistaken: Although Israel would prefer to be joined by others in an attack upon Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities, this is no "ruse."

First, I would begin by referencing two declarations from Menachem Begin that underlie Israeli policy. First, after the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981, Begin wrote:

"Let the world know that under no circumstances will Israel ever allow an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our people. If ever such a threat reoccurs we shall take whatever preemptive measures are necessary to defend the citizens of Israel with all the means at our disposal."

And then there was the second, more basic statement of principle from Begin in May 1981, which was quoted by Romney during his recent visit to Jerusalem (

"[I]f an enemy of our people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him."

Now consider the torrent of threats to exterminate Israel issued by Iranian officials in recent months. Just last Friday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad declared (

"The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour. The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists."

It would be hard for anyone to misconstrue Iran's intentions. Yes, Israel will act, and if necessary will act on its own, to eliminate this menace.

When will Israel act? Sorry, but I already told you that I don't intend to get myself into hot water; however, it can simply be said that there are a host of factors weighing upon the timing of any such mission, including:

• The ultimate termination of negotiations between the P5+1, led by an imbecilic Catherine Ashton, and Iran, which were destined for failure from the start.
• The ongoing civil war in Syria, particularly with an eye to who gains control over Syria's massive chemical weapons stockpiles.
• The weakening effect of the civil war in Syria on Hezbollah in Lebanon, which possesses some 50,000 rockets and missiles, aimed at Israeli population centers.
• Recent attempts to initiate terror attacks from Sinai into Israel and the armored response of Egypt's new Islamic Brotherhood government.
• The ongoing failure of Obama's belated and inadequately enforced economic sanctions to persuade Iran to curtail its nuclear weapons development program.
• The absence of trust between Obama and Netanyahu, which could have been allayed by a visit to Jerusalem by Obama, but then Obama refuses to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

As I often explain to my children, life is a balancing act, and timing is everything.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gail Collins, "The Sexual Spirit of ’76": She's Also Right

I have regularly savaged the New York Times op-eds of Gail Collins. However, her latest opinion piece, entitled "The Sexual Spirit of ’76" (, is an important read. Collins concludes her op-ed by stating:

"Politicians who say they oppose all abortions are making perfect sense, except for the part where they try to impose their doctrinal beliefs on the vast majority of the country, which does not share that particular religious conviction. It’s the abortion-except-for-rape-and-incest position that doesn’t compute. Rape victims, yes, but not a 14-year-old who was impregnated by her 15-year-old boyfriend? The impoverished mother of six kids whose birth control method failed? There’s no way to set the worthy-of-compassion bar unless you trust women to set it for themselves.

Maybe Akin’s real sin is that he exposed the phoniness of the rape-and-incest exception, which is just an attempt to make radical extremism look moderate. That and the theory of the delighted womb."

Collins is right. She could also have referred to women who have contracted measles or other diseases during pregnancy which can lead to children being born with severe mental retardation. Or women with alcohol addictions which have affected the development of the fetus. Or instances where it is known in advance that if born, the child will suffer from Down syndrome. The bottom line: It is indeed for women to decide for themselves concerning abortion.

And although Akin's ignorance is a source of repugnance, the Republican Party plank, "which would ban abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest"
(, presumably the product of careful collegial consideration, is much more revolting.

Then, too, there can be no ignoring the contribution to this national scandal of the Democrats, who spent $1.5 million to ensure that Akin would be the Republican candidate facing the unpopular Democratic incumbent, Senator Claire McCaskill. As reported by The Washington Post (

"There’s a reason why Democrats spent over $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his three-way primary. He was the most conservative candidate in the field — and the most unpredictable one. He shook up his campaign staff late last year. He recently released a head-scratching and jumbled campaign ad. And Democrats have already launched a microsite highlighting his controversial statements that won’t play well with moderates. ('America has got the equivalent of the stage III cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,' Akin once said.)"

This assistance from the Democrats to Akin was ethical? What if he should continue to insist on running (there remains a chance he will drop out of the race) and win?

Yup, there's plenty of blame to be shared by both parties for me wanting to lose my breakfast this morning.

Thank You

Just a short thank you note to those who read this blog. Although you would have no way of knowing it, persons from 28 countries visited yesterday.

There are ordinarily not many comments; however, those submitted are most often highly discerning and respectful of others.

Again, my sincerest gratitude.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Just Think No": She's Right

Although Romney, Ryan and a chorus of other Republicans yesterday called for Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for senator in Missouri, to abandon the race following his vile "legitimate rape" remark, the Republican National Committee "approved a plank in their platform advocating for the passage of the 'Human Life Amendment,' which would ban abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest"

Or in other words, Republicans regard Akin's ignorance and candor as liabilities in the upcoming elections, while their party calls for a ban on abortion in instances of rape and incest.


In her New York Times op-ed entitled "Just Think No" (, Maureen Dowd writes:

"Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother."

She's right. This is an instance where the apologies of Akin are unacceptable and the renunciations of his fellow Republicans amount to window dressing.

Moreover, Romney was excruciatingly slow in calling for Akin to quit. There are times when a leader can't wait to determine which way the wind is blowing, and here was an opportunity for Romney to dispel his reputation for wishy-washiness. He failed the test, and inevitably there will be repercussions in November.

Monday, August 20, 2012

David Brooks, "Guide for the Perplexed": Is Brooks Also an "Unserious Man"?

Returning to the New York Times op-ed page after a short break, David Brooks writes in "Guide for the Perplexed" (

"By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has put Medicare at the center of the national debate. Possibly for the first time, he has done something politically perilous. He has made it clear that restructuring Medicare will be a high priority.

This is impressive. If you believe entitlement reform is essential for national solvency, then Romney-Ryan is the only train leaving the station.

Moreover, when you look at the Medicare reform package Romney and Ryan have proposed, you find yourself a little surprised. You think of them of as free-market purists, but this proposal features heavy government activism, flexibility and rampant pragmatism."

Now compare this language with that of Paul Krugman in his New York Times op-ed yesterday, "An Unserious Man" (

"Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket.

. . . .

So will the choice of Mr. Ryan mean a serious campaign? No, because Mr. Ryan isn’t a serious man — he just plays one on TV."

This is indeed perplexing.

I suppose Krugman thinks that Brooks is also "unserious," but this should come as no surprise. Krugman is the only "serious" person out there, and if you have any doubts in this regard, just ask Krugman.

But back for a moment to Brooks's opinion piece, in which he observes:

"In 1962, 14 cents of every federal dollar not going to interest payments were spent on entitlement programs. Today, 47 percent of every dollar is spent on entitlements. By 2030, 61 cents of every noninterest dollar will be spent on entitlements.

Entitlement spending is crowding out spending on investments in our children and on infrastructure. This spending is threatening national bankruptcy. It’s increasing so quickly that there is no tax increase imaginable that could conceivably cover it. And, these days, the real entitlement problem is Medicare."

At the risk of also being labeled "unserious," by Krugman, I agree with Brooks.

However, I would like to ask Brooks and Krugman why they both ignore America's meaningless ground involvement in Afghanistan, which has cost the US the lives of more than 1,800 military personnel and some $443 billion (see:, of which $120 billion was spent in 2011 alone (see: Yes, Obama now owns this war.

Or am I again being "unserious"?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paul Krugman, "An Unserious Man": Only Ryan Is Unserious?

Back from vacation, an apoplectic Paul Krugman, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "An Unserious Man" (, predictably pontificates:

"Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate led to a wave of pundit accolades. Now, declared writer after writer, we’re going to have a real debate about the nation’s fiscal future. This was predictable: never mind the Tea Party, Mr. Ryan’s true constituency is the commentariat, which years ago decided that he was the Honest, Serious Conservative, whose proposals deserve respect even if you don’t like him.

But he isn’t and they don’t. Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket."

Ryanomics won't give rise to "real debate"? If such is the case, why does Krugman waste the remainder of his opinion piece dissecting the Ryan plan as he would have us perceive it, i.e. creating and then lambasting a strawman. This isn't a "real" effort at debate on Krugman's part? Or can there be no debating Krugman's Nobel bull (as in papal bull)?

But so long as we're on the topics of "real" and "serious," observe what Felix Salmon has to say in his New York Times review ( of Krugman's very recent book, "End This Depression Now!":

"[T]he real heart of 'End This Depression' is distressingly thin. There are 13 chapters, plus an introduction and a postscript, and just one — Chapter 12 — attempts to deliver on the promise of the title and explain what Mr. Krugman would have the government actually do to improve our collective lot. And that chapter is pretty short. There are precious few detailed policy proposals here, and it would be extremely difficult to put a price tag on what Mr. Krugman wants. A lot of it is more attitude than money, in any case: the idea, for instance, that Ben Bernanke needs to demonstrate 'Rooseveltian resolve' in his quest to get the country moving.

Would Mr. Krugman’s vague prescription — which boils down, at heart, to old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus — really end this depression? Are we even in a depression? We’re certainly suffering the aftermath of a particularly nasty financial crisis, and more government spending would surely help, at the margin.

But without knowing how much money Mr. Krugman proposes to spend, it’s hard to judge what he’s proposing."

Goodness gracious, Krugman, your own paper publishes a review like this, and you have the nerve to declare that the other Paul is "unserious"?

The reality is that economics is not an exact science, and although Krugman would never admit it, there exist different paths, many of them valid, to reach the same destination. "Spring comes after winter," anyone?

Debate which path to choose? Absolutely. But this can also be done without gaseous invictive.

Ryan is "unserious"? Sorry to be a bore, but listen again to Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the Obama Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and decide for yourself.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Beware a Beautiful Calm": A Wrinkleless Dowd Rages Against Ryan

Intent upon proving to us that Paul Ryan is a "bad" person, Maureen Dowd, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Beware a Beautiful Calm" (, quotes Tom Morello, a guitarist for Rage Against the Machine:

"'He [Paul Ryan] is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,' Morello writes, adding: 'I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta 'rage' in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically, the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.'"

Well, I've never heard of Morello or Rage Against the Machine. (I don't know the meaning of a "metal rap band," and Dowd does not mention that Morello admits to having worked as an "exotic dancer," see: Be that as it may, note what Andy Kroll reports in an August 13th Mother Jones article entitled "Obama Has Attended, On Average, One Fundraiser Every 60 Hours While Running for Reelection" (

"This weekend, President Obama attended the 200th fundraiser of his reelection campaign. By the end of Sunday, the president had reached 203 fundraisers since officially launching his re-election bid in April 2011. That's more fundraisers than any presidential candidate in history.

. . . .

The fundraising has paid off handsomely. Obama and affiliated Democratic groups have raised more than $600 million since April 2011, and the president is on track to beat his record haul of $748 million for the 2008 election."

Only Romney and Ryan are "groveling" for campaign contributions? Yeah, right. And all this while I thought Obama had a country to manage.

Dowd devotes much of the remainder of her opinion piece to Catholic bishops, priest and nuns who are concerned over the effect of Ryan's proposed budget cuts on the poor, before concluding:

"Beyond the even-keeled Ryan mien lurks full-tilt virulence. A moderate demeanor is not a sign of a moderate view of the world."

Nowhere, however, does Dowd acknowledge that the US is running ruinous trillion dollar annual budget deficits with no end in sight, that Obama is offering no credible solution to the problem, and that fiscal insolvency is just around the corner.

Unlike Ryan, I am pro-choice and favor gay marriage. On the other hand, there is no denying that the US is facing a full-fledged economic crisis, which could potentially threaten all services to rich and poor alike. Discussion of this catastrophe in the making is necessary, and we are fortunate that Ryan is bringing the matter to a head.

Both parties should be discussing an immediate end to America's involvement in Afghanistan, which was disastrously escalated by Obama. Regrettably, neither Democrats nor Republicans have the courage to address the matter, as American soldiers continue to die in this meaningless conflict.

And the first principle of Romney's 5-point plan for remedying the econony, i.e. aggressively promote domestic energy production, is correct. I have been a persistent advocate of developing American oil shale, which I believe can result in hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the US, balance the trade deficit, help reduce America's mountain of debt, and free the US from dependence upon oil imported from tyrannical foreign regimes. I also believe that this can be done in a responsible manner with minimal damage to the environment.

As pertains to energy and much like Joe Nocera (see:, I would not have hesitated to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project. However, Obama, the Procrastinator-in-Chief, could not risk annoying environmentalists, and as a result Canada's synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen are flowing instead to China, costing the US energy and new places of employment.

Dowd would have us know that Ryan is "way out there" and that Ryan's apparent "reassuring reasonableness" is the "the beautiful calm" of hysterical people. Dowd adds, "the closer you look, the uglier it gets."

In fact, Dowd completely misses the point: the closer you look at the American economy, the uglier it gets, and like it or not, the US is going to have to swallow some strong medicine or face disaster affecting all of its citizens.

Iranian President Ahmahinejad: Israel Is a Cancerous Tumor Soon to Be Excised

When Obama became president, one of his first diplomatic initiatives was to make overtures to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which, according to several of his close aides, had been "misunderstood" by the Bush administration. See below his naive March 2009 Nowruz address to the Iranian leadership:

You will also recall Roger Cohen's infamous series of New York Times op-eds from Iran during the first six months of 2009, declaring that Iran is "not totalitarian." And there were also the incessant guest New York Times op-eds written by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, imploring Obama to forge a new approach toward Iran.

When Iranians took to the streets during the July 2009 Green Revolution to bring down the Ahmadinejad regime, Obama, wishing to cozy up to the mullahs, did nothing as protesters, calling out his name, were gunned down, tortured and imprisoned.

And there have always been those from the left who denied Iranian intentions to annihilate Israel. Well, there can no longer be any denying Tehran's plans.

As reported by Lebanon's Daily Star (, Iranian President Ahmadinejad stated yesterday:

"'The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour,' he said. 'The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists,' he said."

Even Roger Cohen would have a hard time misconstruing these words.

Charles Blow, "Dark Road to the White House": Hypocrite!

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Dark Road to the White House" (, Charles Blow tells us that the "road map for a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan win in November" consists of "Shady money, voter suppression, shifting positions, murky details and widespread apathy." Telling us of Paul Ryan's "letters to Obama’s secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program [Obama's stimulus package] be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups," Blow concludes:

"Paint a scarlet 'H' on that man’s chest for hypocrisy."

In fact, the real hypocrite here is Blow.

Blow begins his opinion piece by quoting at length from yesterday's sleazy New York Times editorial "In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson" (see:, which parroted language from the Obama campaign, and to which the Times's public editors office responded by declaring, "The Times's editorial page has a wide latitude to express its views" (

If I understand both Blow and the Times's editorial board correctly, Romney is forbidden to take money from Adelson, but Obama can take money from Soros (convicted of insider trading), Goldman Sachs and Hollywood. Obama can also cut a stinky real estate deal with Tony Rezko (today also a convicted felon). Hypocritical? You bet.

Ryan opposed Obama's stimulus plan, but after it was approved, Blow observes that Ryan sought part of the money for his constituents. But once the plan was passed, why shouldn't he have done this for his constituents, who would ultimately also have to pay its price?

Blows accuses Romney of "shifting positions" and "murky details," however, even The Washington Post is telling us today in an editorial entitled "A presidential campaign that’s not serving the country" (

"For his part, President Obama has offered only the gauziest outlines of a second-term agenda. Instead, his argument for reelection is focused on the damage he argues Mr. Romney and fellow Republicans would do. This may be enough for Mr. Obama to cobble together the necessary electoral votes, but it hardly lays the groundwork for the difficult choices, particularly on the fiscal front, that will confront the next president — and that Mr. Obama ducked during his current term."

In that same editorial, the liberal Washington Post had the integrity to reference Vice President Biden's recent inflammatory remarks (Republicans will "put y'all back in chains") and obscene attempts by the Obama campaign to link Romney to the death from cancer of the wife of a steelworker. But does Blow attempt to strike this balance? No way.

There is a much I don't like about the positions, or absence of positions, of Romney, but Charles Blow has now also done his part to further sully a 2012 presidential election, which has found its way into the gutter owing to the demeaning level of the Obama campaign - to which Obama once pledged he would never descend.

A "dark road to the White House"? Indeed, it is route upon which Obama has cast "Hope" and "Change," if they ever existed, by the wayside.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New York Times Public Editor's Office Re Adelson Editorial: Editorial Page Has "Wide Latitude"

I just heard back from the Office of the Public Editor of The New York Times concerning their editorial, "In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson" (

"Hi Jeffrey, The Times's editorial page has a wide latitude to express its views and can choose the words to express its views as it sees fit. This word usage doesn't seem unreasonable."

Note that they do not deny the "similarity" between the "word usage" of the editorial and the "word usage" of a letter sent by Julianna Smoot, Deputy Campaign Manager, Obama for America, seeking donations for the Obama campaign (see:

Or stated otherwise, there is no minimal requirement for objectivity or balance on the Times's editorial page, which has enormous latitude to express its views (or to parrot the views of the Obama campaign).

New York Times, "In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson": Sleaziest Editorial in Its 161-Year History

The New York Times was established in 1851, and never in its 161-year history has it descended to the contemptible nadir it reached in its editorial entitled "In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson" (

Although this editorial would condemn contributions from Sheldon Adelson to the Romney campaign, there is no mention by this hyper-partisan editorial of Obama's stinky Chicago real estate deal with convicted felon Tony Rezko.

On the same day in 2005 Obama purchased his Chicago mansion, the wife of Rezko bought the adjacent empty lot from the same seller, who wanted to sell both properties together. However, as reported by ABC News (

"While Rezko's wife paid the full asking price for the land, Obama paid $300,000 under the asking price for the house. The house sold for $1,650,000 and the price Rezko's wife paid for the land was $625,000.

Obama denies there was anything unusual about the price disparity. He says the price on the house was dropped because it had been on the market for some time but that the price for the adjacent land remained high because there was another offer."

Do you buy Obama's explanation concerning this sweetheart real estate deal? Sorry, I don't.

Also no mention by the Times editorial of the funds received by Obama in 2008 from Goldman Sachs. As Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and the William J. Casey Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, wrote earlier this week in an article entitled "Why Goldman Sachs, Other Wall Street Titans Are Not Being Prosecuted" in The Daily Beast (

"On Thursday the Department of Justice announced it will not prosecute Goldman Sachs or any of its employees in a financial-fraud probe.

. . . .

Thursday’s announcement that there will be no prosecutions should hardly come as a surprise. In 2008, Goldman Sachs employees were among Barack Obama’s top campaign contributors, giving a combined $1,013,091. Eric Holder’s former law firm, Covington & Burling, also counts Goldman Sachs as one of its clients. Furthermore, in April 2011, when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a scathing report detailing Goldman’s suspicious Abacus deal, several Goldman executives and their families began flooding Obama campaign coffers with donations, some giving the maximum $35,800."

But why should this trouble the Times?

The Times complains of the flow of super PAC money to Romney, but ignores the super PAC money being received by Obama via Priorities USA Action, which most recently found itself in the news owing to its specious advertisement seeking to link Romney to the death of a steelworker's wife.

And although the Times editorial refers to "multiple federal investigations into the company behind Mr. Adelson’s wealth," it also acknowledges that "the company has denied all allegations of improper behavior." Query: In the US are persons guilty until proven innocent?

The Times demands that Romney avoid Adelson, but no mention is made of funds received by Obama from George Soros, who was convicted in France of insider trading and fined $1.25 million (see:

The editorial casts aspersions upon Sheldon Adelson's efforts to lobby on behalf of holding the Olympics in China, given China's abominable human rights record. But as president, what has Obama done to improve human rights in that country? In fact, he has all but ignored the topic. Moreover, in order to appease the Chinese, Obama saw the visiting Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House and not the Oval Office. There was no official welcome, the meeting was closed to the press, and the Dalai Lama was sent out of the White House via a back door, where a pile of trash was unceremoniously waiting for him.

This sickening editorial is part and parcel of the gutter politics which characterize the 2012 election. It also heralds the further decline of a once respectable news organization, which is well along the path to moral and financial bankruptcy.

[Compare the language of the Times editorial ("Three days after Paul Ryan became the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, he made a pilgrimage on Tuesday to the Las Vegas gambling palace of Sheldon Adelson, the casino tycoon") with the words from a letter sent by Julianna Smoot, Deputy Campaign Manager, Obama for America ("Today, just 72 hours after joining the GOP ticket, Paul Ryan is making a pilgrimage to the Sands' Venetian casino in Las Vegas to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson," see: seeking donations for the Obama campaign. Sickeningly similar? You bet!]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roger Cohen, "Israel's Iran Itch": Jackass

Do you remember how Roger Cohen spent much of the first six months of 2009 attempting to convince us that Iran is "not totalitarian"?

This was followed a "memorable" 2011 op-ed ( in which Cohen wrote:

"Seymour Hersh concludes in a New Yorker article this month that, as he put it in one interview, 'There’s just no serious evidence inside that Iran is actually doing anything to make a nuclear weapon.'

His reporting reveals that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (N.I.E.) of 2007 — which concluded 'with high confidence' that Iran had halted a nuclear-weapons program in 2003 — still pertains in the classified N.I.E. of 2011. As a retired senior intelligence official put it to Hersh, there’s nothing 'substantially new' that 'leads to a bomb.'

In other words, Iran, epicenter of inefficiency, unable to produce a kilowatt of electricity through its Bushehr nuclear reactor despite decades of effort, is still doing its old brinkmanship number."

Well, here we are in August 2012, and all Western intelligence services are aware that Iran has been, and is, building a nuclear bomb. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was pure rubbish.

Today, Roger Cohen, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel's Iran Itch" (, writes:

"Iran is not enriching uranium, as it claims, for a power plant of epic dysfunction. But nor has it yet united the various elements needed to make a bomb. If it ever makes the decision to do so, I expect the U.S. military response to be swift and devastating. The wise choice for Israel is therefore patience."

So it appears that the penny has finally dropped, and Cohen, in his infinite wisdom, finally acknowledges what Iran is seeking.

Israel should be patient? It's time for Obama to recognize that the P5+1's so-called negotiations with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons development program have failed. Moreover, Iran has shown itself adept at evading American sanctions with the able assistance of European banks.

Unlike various former heads of the Israeli Mossad and General Security Service, I am not seeking to appear on television throughout the world and proffer advice.

My sole recommendation: Ignore Roger Cohen, who, unlike a broken clock, is not even right twice a day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ohio State University, "People With Allergies May Have Lower Risk of Brain Tumors": More Evidence of Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Cancer?

Back to science for a moment . . .

You will recall two days ago I wrote (

"Note the relationship between autoimmune diseases and cancer: If our immune systems overreact, our bodies can be savaged by autoimmune diseases; if our immune systems fail in their mission to detect intruders owing to surreptitious attempts to disguise pathogens, various kinds of cancer can proliferate."

It would appear that more evidence of this relationship between autoimmune disease and cancer can be found in an article published by Ohio State University entitled "People With Allergies May Have Lower Risk of Brain Tumors" ( The article states:

"New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that there’s a link between allergies and reduced risk of a serious type of cancer that starts in the brain.

. . . .

The study also strengthens scientists’ belief that something about having allergies or a related factor lowers the risk for this cancer. Because these tumors, called glioma, have the potential to suppress the immune system to allow them to grow, researchers have never been sure whether allergies reduce cancer risk or if, before diagnosis, these tumors interfere with the hypersensitive immune response to allergens.

. . . .

'This is our most important finding,' said Judith Schwartzbaum, associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study. 'The longer before glioma diagnosis that the effect of allergies is present, the less likely it is that the tumor is suppressing allergies. Seeing this association so long before tumor diagnosis suggests that antibodies or some aspect of allergy is reducing tumor risk.

'It could be that in allergic people, higher levels of circulating antibodies may stimulate the immune system, and that could lower the risk of glioma,' said Schwartzbaum, also an investigator in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. 'Absence of allergy is the strongest risk factor identified so far for this brain tumor, and there is still more to understand about how this association works.'"

Fascinating. I can finally appreciate my allergy to cats.

Gail Collins, "Middle-Age Blues": More Bubbles in a Bathtub

"Og Oggilby . . . sounds like a bubble in a bathtub."

W.C. Fields playing Egbert Sousé in "The Bank Dick," 1940

Although many American liberals voiced satisfaction with Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate, this bliss is fast morphing into intellectual apoplexy. America's burgeoning debt is not sustainable, and although you need not agree with Paul Ryan's solutions, there can be no denying that the problem exists.

Correction: There can be no denying that the problem exists unless you are Gail Collins.

No longer content with accusing Romney of cruelty to his dog, Collins, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Middle-Age Blues" (, is now telling us how Ryan is nasty to catfish. And although critical of his Medicare proposals, she breezily ignores America's looming economic catastrophe.

You see, it's much more "fun" talking about cruelty to catfish than trillion dollar deficits for which Obama is offering no solutions. Then, too, Collins, like Dowd yesterday (see:, is out of her depth.

Meanwhile, Obama and friends, incapable of providing solutions, have instead decided to trash talk Romney by linking him to the death of a steelworker's wife and informing African Americans that Romney would “put y'all back in chains.”

And the media, ever seeking to strike a tone of balance, is accusing both sides of ugly rhetoric (see:

"Hope" and "Change"? Long gone by the wayside.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "When Cruelty Is Cute": Does Dowd Inject Botox?

In a New York Times op-ed earlier this month (, Maureen Dowd wrote:

"Feminism has come and gone, and women now routinely puff their lips, inflate their chests, dye their hair and dress with sultry abandon."

Oddly, there was no mention by Maureen of the use by women of Botox (global market expected to reach annual $2.9 billion by 2018 at a CAGR of 14%) to eliminate wrinkles.

Dowd, who had her 60th birthday in January of this year, appears to have a furrow-free forehead. How does she do it? I'm two and a half years younger than Dowd, and there is no mistaking the grooves over and around my weary brown eyes. Admittedly I have worked on farms, suffered a plethora of military exercises in the desert, and continue to endure the vicissitudes of a wife and three children, all contributing to signs of aging, but please, Maureen, tell us the secret to your youthful mien. I'm certain your readership deserves to know.

But more to the point, I wonder whether Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate has finally elicited a crease in Dowd's brow.

Commenting on Ryan's appearance in her op-ed in today's Times, "When Cruelty Is Cute" (, Maureen writes of the Republican vice presidential candidate, "He’s the cutest package that cruelty ever came in."

Dowd proceeds to shower vituperation upon poor Paul. Asking, "Who better to rain misery upon the heads of millions of Americans?," Dowd demeans Ryan's affinity for "Atlas Shrugged," claiming that "Randism is a state of arrested adolescence."

Mocking the concern of Ryan and "his fellow conservative Cassandras" with the "debt bomb," Dowd would have us know that Ryan is "a numbers guy whose numbers don’t add up." Yet nowhere is there any attempt by Dowd to deal with the numbers, and regrettably, this would-be opinion piece is little more than a bloated ad hominem attack.

Allow me to set the record straight: I am pro-choice and am in favor of gay marriage, positions diametrically opposed to those of Ryan. Moreover, there is much detail lacking with respect to the manner in which Ryan would cut the US federal budget and deficit.

However, only a fool could ignore the mountain of debt that has been created by the Obama administration and which threatens to bring America to its knees.

Unfortunately, the American budget will need to be cut, and although there is plenty of room for argument as to which expenses need to be slashed, ultimately this will be unpleasant for many.

Impose higher taxes on America's wealthiest? Sure, they should share in the burden, but all, including Obama, acknowledge that this doesn't even come close to providing a solution.

I am not an aficionado of "Atlas Shrugged." Rather, I am a fan of Edward de Bono's "Lateral Thinking for Management" and believe that proffering and considering a multitude of ideas can give rise to creative solutions.

I also think that in order to solve America's debt problem, it first must be acknowledged - something that Ryan has brought to the fore in the 2012 presidential election, but something that Dowd does not deign address in her op-ed.

How much of an unreasonable "package of cruelty" is Paul Ryan? Listen to Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the Obama Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and decide for yourself.

Monoclonal Antibodies for Dummies Like Myself, Part II

Enough today about the woeful world of politics. Let's talk instead about science and saving lives.

A month and a half ago, Compugen, which created a monoclonal antibody target discovery platform, issued a press release announcing "results demonstrating the therapeutic potential of CGEN-15022, a Compugen-discovered B7/CD28-like membrane protein, as an immune checkpoint target for treatment of multiple cancers." What is an "immune checkpoint target"? As explained in the press release (

"Immune checkpoints are inhibitory receptors and their ligands, which are crucial for the maintenance of self-tolerance (that is, the prevention of autoimmunity) and for the protection of tissues from damage when the immune system is responding to pathogenic infection."

But what does this mean to a simpleton like myself?

In fact, unbeknownst to ourselves as we go about our daily activities, our bodies are sophisticated battlegrounds in which our immune systems are engaged in perpetual search and destroy missions premised upon "identification friend or foe." That which belongs to our bodies is intended to be left in peace, whereas intruders are tagged for destruction.

All is fine and well, except when our immune systems "overreact" and attack the body itself, giving rise to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Alternatively, our immune systems can fail in their mission and permit pathogens to get past their defenses, giving rise to infections.

And then there is a third, ugly, possibility: cancer cells, which should be identified as foreign, are able to camouflage themselves and avoid detection by our immune systems.

Note the relationship between autoimmune diseases and cancer: If our immune systems overreact, our bodies can be savaged by autoimmune diseases; if our immune systems fail in their mission to detect intruders owing to surreptitious attempts to disguise pathogens, various kinds of cancer can proliferate.

And if immune checkpoints, which can be likened to switchboards responsible for routing our immune responses, malfunction, a host of disorders can result.

Which now takes us back to Compugen.

Compugen knew that the B7 family of proteins had been linked to the workings of these immune checkpoints and that exciting new therapeutics for both autoimmune diseases and cancers had been derived from these proteins. Moreover, Compugen was convinced that more of these proteins could be discovered, potentially giving rise to additional therapeutics.

Working its computerized predictive magic, Compugen reported the discovery of nine distinct, heretofore unknown, B7/CD28-like membrane proteins. Detaching the extracellular portions of these proteins and fusing them to antibody Fc "tails," Compugen was able to create new proteins, and five out of six of the initially tested Fc-fusion proteins were shown to be efficacious in autoimmune disease models.

Given this remarkable rate of success for these fusion proteins, Compugen had reason to believe that the distinct, naturally occurring parent proteins, whose existence was predicted by the company, also played an important role in the modulation of our immune systems and could serve as targets for monoclonal antibody therapy for various kinds of cancer. It was thought that these "negative costimulatory proteins" could be involved in "highjacking" the autoimmune process and protecting tumors from discovery and destruction.

Lo and behold, the first of these B7/CD28-like membrane proteins to be disclosed by Compugen, CGEN-15001T, was discovered to be over expressed in prostate cancer, melanoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, such as T and B cell lymphomas. The second such protein to be disclosed by Compugen, CGEN-15022, was found to be over expressed in a complementary set of epithelial cancers with significant unmet clinical needs, such as liver, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancers.

And these are only the first two B7/CD28-like membrane proteins for which Compugen has provided results.

How might monoclonal antibodies developed against these membrane protein targets provide therapeutic answers to various cancers? The monoclonal antibodies that bind to these targets can of course mark the cancerous cells for destruction.

More provocative, however, is the possibility that by binding to these targets, the monoclonal antibodies remove the tumor's "cloak of immunity," thereby allowing the body's immune system to search out and destroy the specific cancer cells by itself. This could result in durable clinical responses and improve the success of antibody-based cancer therapies.

Exciting science? You bet!

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized, approved or reviewed prior to posting by Compugen.]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joe Nocera, "Let the Real Debate Begin": Finally, Some Uncommon Sense

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Let the Real Debate Begin" (, Joe Nocera writes:

"But, most important, it seems to me that the Ryan pick creates the potential for the country to have the debate, in a national election, that it needs to have about the size and role of the federal government."

Exactly. You don't have to agree with everything Ryan says. I don't. On the other hand, his selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee is already forcing the Democrats to grapple with his ideas to shrink the government. No longer will this election hinge on Romney's "likability" and undisclosed tax returns.

Or stated otherwise, Ryan introduces a measure of intelligence into the election, and Obama's focus in Iowa is already on Ryan and not on Romney.

Ryan is no Palin, and although you can disagree with his policies, you must respect his intelligence, ethics and passion. The opposite of Sarah Palin, he is a game changer for the Republicans, and Axelrod, who was quite content to run a negative campaign on behalf of Obama, avoiding the issues and the president's record of underachievement, is fast losing his smile.